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Communications of the ACM


Weighing Watson's Impact

IBM's Watson machine

IBM's Watson soundly defeated the two most successful contestants in the history of the game show "Jeopardy!," Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, in a three-day competition in February.

Credit: IBM

Does IBM's Watson represent a distinct breakthrough in machine learning and natural language processing or is the 2,880-core wunderkind merely a solid feat of engineering?

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Eric Nieuwland

In this article Kroeker describes the Watson team learned it was necessary to create "a positive feedback loop of extracting basic syntax and local semantics from language, learning from context, and then interacting with users and a broader community to acquire knowledge that is otherwise difficult to extract,. Which is not unlike how children acquire their native language, as parents can testify.

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